Moyes suggests Sunderland squad will be short again next season
David Moyes has suggested his squad will be unreconisable at the beginning of next season compared with the group which will complete this campaign. In quotes in the Daily Mail, the Sunderland boss said:
Unfortunately, I think will be a change around of players again. Lots of players came in on loan or free transfers last summer and there will be a big turn around of players again.
As confirmation of Championship football next season nears, thoughts on Wearside are naturally drifting from this limp end in the Premier League campaign to how the Black Cats squad will look in the second tier.
But Moyes has already warned observers that with the queue for the exit at the Stadium of Light likely to be a long one come the end of the season, the task of rebuilding set against what will be a negligible budget will present a huge challenge:
We were short of players at the start of last season so I'd be surprised if it was much different going into the next season.
With Sunderland's latest set of published financial figures due imminently, the dismal state of the accounts will confirm a deepening gloom as to the business Moyes is able to fund in order to build a promotion-challenging side this summer.
The likes of Jordan Pickford, Jermain Defoe, Fabio Borini and Lamine Kone will in all likelihood be gone from the Stadium of Light long before the summer holiday season begins. And the names of those rumoured to have been scouted by Sunderland in the last few months all have two things in common - cheap and no disrespect to any of them - somewhat second-rate.
Meanwhile, figures released by the FA have revealed that Sunderland spent nearly £6m on agent fees this season. Substantial perhaps, but not a huge figure relative to the rest of the Premier League, as this graphic indicates from the excellent @experimental361 twitter account:
The amount lashed out on greasing the palms of player representatives is up on last year's figure of £3.4m but comparable with the previous 12 months' expenditure at £5.3m.
Ledger's own goal
Sunderland defender Michael Ledger - on loan at Norwegian outfit Viking Stavanger until the end of the season - scored a sixth minute own goal on Thursday in his second league appearance in the Eliteserien.
Viking 0 - 1 Tromsø— Sukru Gursoy (@SukruGursoy) April 7, 2017
Gol: (KK) Michael Ledger... pic.twitter.com/h8jvFrVZb4
Interviewed after the game for Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang, the 19-year-old said a friend had joked with him before kick-off not to score in his own net:
It was something he said as a joke, maybe he jinxed me. Maybe my positioning wasn't correct, it came off my foot and went in. It's a mistake, it happens. I'm disappointed but I'll learn from it.
Ledger will have little time to reflect on his error though. Viking travel to second-placed Sarpsborg 08 on Sunday.
Advocaat talks Lens
As Dick Advocaat prepares for retirement, he's been busy trying to smooth the way for his charge Jeremain Lens to stay with Fenerbahçe once the winger's loan spell is completed at the end of the season.
Reports in Turkey appear to have concluded that the Istanbul-based outfit will be unable to sign the Dutch player on a permanent deal, and that a further season-long loan may suit all parties.
Advocaat told the Turkish press about ongoing discussions regarding Lens:
I spoke to the president [of Fenerbahçe] about this subject. They know what I think. Lens is Sunderland's player. The club knows of our ideas. We have had two meetings about this.
There have been suggestions that other clubs are monitoring Lens' situation including Fenerbahçe's fierce rivals Galatasaray and Turkish league leaders Besiktas. Napoli have also been credited with an interest this week.
A spot for Gooch on Sunday?
Sunderland's Under-23s were comfortably beaten by Chelsea last night by three-goals-to-nil at Stamford Bridge.
Elliot Dickman's side featured few players with any first team experience bar Joel Asoro and George Honeyman.
But the omission of Lynden Gooch from the Black Cats Premier League 2 squad which travelled to London may be a hint that the American will be part of the line-up for Sunday's visit from Manchester United.
The Santa Cruz-born midfielder has only been part of the first team match day squad twice this calendar year - as an unused substitute against Tottenham at the Stadium of Light and for the trip to Everton. With David Moyes preparing to mix things up a bit for a final throw of the dice in the fading relegation battle, Gooch may well be included on Sunday.